House of Fraser was founded in Glasgow, Scotland in 1849 as a drapery shop by Hugh Fraser and James Arthur, then called Arthur and Fraser. They split the business in 1856 into two: the wholesale side began to operate under the name Arthur & Co. while the retail side maintained the original name and expanded into buildings adjoining the original site. Fraser assumed control in 1865, joined shortly thereafter by the professional manager Alexander McLaren, changing the name to Fraser & McLaren. Eight years later, Fraser passed, and his three eldest sons rose up to take claim of the business, changing its title again.
Fraser & Sons was incorporated in 1909 under the leadership of Hugh Fraser II. His son, Hugh Fraser III, became chairman in 1927, and took it upon himself to broaden the business’ horizons, and that he did. Opening new departments was the first step, and he followed well along the lines of other department stores before him, catering to more than just draperies. He opened a restaurant and began to acquire other stores, enfolding them in the family’s business. That was when House of Fraser gained the name by which it is known today.
Expansions came rapidly over the next few decades. The 1970s alone saw the chain explode into over fifty stores in the ten-year set. House of Fraser has swept through Europe, taking other stores by storm. Acquisition upon acquisition occurred, refurbishments took place nationwide, clothing lines were released, and a charge card came into place in 1983. The Al Fayed family bought the company in 1985 for a whopping £615 million.
The 2000s saw even more acquisitions for the company, including the popular Jenners department stores and Beatties, another highly-successful chain of stores. They didn’t just take over other stores, though. House of Fraser opened more of their own, brand new locations during the decade, too. Their online store was launched in 2007, and has also seen a steady influx of business. The following year they extended their reach into Ireland, making the largest store they’d ever opened the shop in Victoria Square Center, Belfast at 120,000 square feet.
Last year, it was announced that House of Fraser was going to be sold to Chinese conglomerate Sanpower, a purchase of £450 million. The stores and chains they have purchased over the years include the Army & Navy Stores, Beatties, Jenners, Barkers of Kensington, Dickins & Jones, Rackhams, Howells, Kendals, Binns and Harrods of Knightsbridge. Presently, they operate sixty stores across the United Kingdom and Ireland, which focus on selling high-end clothing, cosmetics, and housewares.